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Posts Tagged ‘Sony Alpha 700’

Early Spring is a great time to be out in the woods, especially on a sunny day – the trees may still be bare, but the forest floor is bursting with life… the under-story plants, shrubs and smaller trees rush through their flowering and leafing cycles quickly, to take advantage of the unrestricted sunlight – in a few weeks, once the trees leaf out, the canopy blocks off most of the light, and the small bushes go into the “quiet survival mode” until Fall when they get their chance in the sun again!

I’ve been out with the Sony Alpha 700 and the Tamron 70-300mm f/4-5.6. The choice of lens for woodland photography may seem surprising, but I find that the Tamron is very useful – the extended zoom range (the 70-300mm is equivalent to 105-450mm) on the Sony Alpha provides an useful stand-off distance so one can zoom in on an intresting flower or bud from a distance of at least 5 feet away without having to brave the underbrush and wicked looking brambles – the woods around here are chock full of wild raspberries and dog rose brambles. This also has the advantage of not blocking the light.

Besides, the Tamron 70-300mm is also a 1:3.9 macro, and since can focus down to 5 feet at the extended end of the zoom range, it does a great job. Moreover, I marvel at the fact that the Sony’s built in anti-shake allows me to handhold the 450mm equivalent lens. I would never have been able to do that with my manual Olympus bodies or even the auto focus Minolta 800si.

By the way, I purchased my Tamron lens about 8 years ago, back in June 2000 – I know they still make this lens, but I am not sure how the build quality has changed, or if it is still made made in Japan. I’ve always been very pleased with the Tamron, and even more so now…. with it’s super-zoom length of 450mm f/5.6 and equivalent when mounted on the Sony Alpha 700, it’s a formidable piece of optical engineering, and very cheap at the price. This is a true “cheap awesome lens”.


Tamron AF 70-300mm
Tamron AF 70-300mm
Tamron AF 70-300mm
Tamron AF 70-300mm
Tamron AF 70-300mm
Tamron AF 70-300mm
Tamron AF 70-300mm
Tamron AF 70-300mm
Tamron AF 70-300mm
Tamron AF 70-300mm

Tamron AF 70-300mm
Tamron AF 70-300mm
Tamron AF 70-300mm
Tamron AF 70-300mm
Tamron AF 70-300mm
Tamron AF 70-300mm
Tamron AF 70-300mm
Tamron AF 70-300mm
Tamron AF 70-300mm
Tamron AF 70-300mm
Tamron AF 70-300mm
Tamron AF 70-300mm
Tamron AF 70-300mm

Photographed with a Sony Alpha 700 and Tamron AF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 lens. I used a Polarizer.



Creative Commons License
Alphamagic by Ajoy Muralidhar is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

text and images © 2007-2008 ajoy muralidhar. all product names, websites, brands and technical data referenced are the copyright or trademark of their respective owners. thank you for visiting alphamagic, have a great day!

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Colonial Beach is a little town on the Virginia side of the Potomac River, about 60 miles south of DC… it’s the second longest beach in Virginia (Virginia Beach is the longest). The town was founded in 1892, and served as get away for the residents of DC in the early years of the 20th century, especially in the years before the Great Depression. It was a favorite holiday spot, and it grew and thrived until the coming of automobiles and other transportation – vistors preferred to come on day trips, rather than leisurely vacations as before, and this led to the waterfront hotels closing down.

The town limped along, losing population and businesses until the 2000’s. Then, as if that wasn’t enough, Hurricane Isabel pretty much destroyed the little waterfront town in 2003. The residents are a resilient bunch – they picked up the pieces and rebuilt again. The housing boom brought some prosperity, with developers taking interest in the town. However with the current bust in housing, the city may see some hard times again, but I hope it will recover easily.

The beach is a great place for a family visit.. it’s clean, and with good amenities – parking, restrooms, restaurants, beach shops etc are all located very conveniently, and there is even a Days Inn located right on the beach for overnight and weekend stays. Nancy’s Ice Cream is closeby, and I recommend the Chocolate Ice Cream soft cones.

This past Saturday 4/19 was beautiful, bright and warm in the 80’s so we drove down to Fredericksburg on I-95 and then east on Rte 3 until we got to Rte 205. We followed Rte 205 all the way to Colonial Beach, it’s easy to follow the signs. My daughter Sunayana had been asking to go to the beach since it started turning warmer, and we could not have asked for a better day to be at the waterfront.

I took the Sony Alpha 700, and after some deliberation, I took the Sony 18-200mm lens as it’s the perfect all-occasion lens, and fitted with a Tiffen Polarizer, perfect for beach and water photography. I took along some other AF and manual lenses, and never got around to using them. We got there in the late afternoon, and found parking under a large Willow oak just a hundred feet from the water.

The Sony 18-200mm SAL18200 is a pretty versatile lens, especially when you want to travel light and are reasonably sure of good light levels. It’s equivalent to 27-300mm in the 35mm format, and the huge zoom ration it affords pretty much covers any situation. The lens is a bit slow at the fully extended part of its zoom range (It ranges from f/3.5 at the wide end and f6.3 at the 200mm focal length), but on a bright day, it doesnt matter at all, since we’re generally shooting at much smaller apertures (f11 to f13) with polarizer.

Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA

Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA

Photographed with a Sony Alpha 700 DSLR and a Sony 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 lens and Circular Polarizer. I used the landscape setting and Auto ISO, with Sunny White Balance.



Creative Commons License
Alphamagic by Ajoy Muralidhar is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

text and images © 2007-2008 ajoy muralidhar. all product names, websites, brands and technical data referenced are the copyright or trademark of their respective owners. thank you for visiting alphamagic, have a great day!

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It was unseasonably warm last week, with temperatures in the upper 50’s and even 60’s. Tuesday morning was unusual, with moderately heavy fog all along Rte 27 running North towards Westminster. The mist changes the appearance of the familiar landscape, and the soft morning light makes for some excellent photographic opportunities.

As I drove along Rte 27, the mist slowly lightened until it was completely burnt off by the time I got to work. I stopped at several familiar spots along the way to take these pictures. I had the Sony A700, of course – with the Sigma 28-80mm still on it from last weekend’s hike along the Great Falls towpath.

The Sigma is an unusually light lens, and perfect for hiking. It’s no slouch when it comes to landscape and architectural photography either. On the Sony Alpha, the lens becomes a 42mm-120mm, which gives me enough flexibility for most landscape and architectural applications. Although I’d preferred top have a 35mm for street photography, 42mm is acceptable. Besides, a 42mm lens presents the world with a slightly better perspective than a 50mm, with no distortion at all.

The 2 close-up’s are included to show the macro capabilities of the Sigma 28-80mm.


Misty Morning
Misty Morning
Misty Morning
Misty Morning
Misty Morning
Misty Morning

Misty Morning
Misty Morning
Misty Morning
Misty Morning
Misty Morning
Misty Morning

Photographed with a Sony Alpha 700 and Sigma 28-80mm f/3.5-5.6 aspherical macro lens. Auto ISO, Cloudy white balance.

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I’ve been so busy testing all my Olympus mount Zuiko and Kirons and Vivitars as well as the Minolta AF, Sigma, Tamron and Phoenix lenses on the Sony Alpha 700 that I feel that I haven’t really had a chance to use the Sony lens that I bought along with the Sony A700 body. It’s the Sony 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 lens, officially named the SAL18200.

Coming from the manual lenses world, I originally had some trepidation with regards to the extended 1:11 zoom ratio, but I have been pleasantly surprised. Prior to this, the largest zoom ratio lens I owned is the Kiron 28-210mm super-zoom (1:7.5 zoom ratio) for Olympus mount. The Kiron is an awesome lens, but it’s bulky and heavy.

There used to be a time when designing lenses with such large zoom ratios used to mean accepting that there would have to be a compromise in the performance, particularly at the shorter end of the zoom, but Sony has some how managed to make it work. Sony even has a lens with an even larger zoom ratio, the SAL18250 (18-250mm) which has a mind boggling 1:13.9 or 1:14 zoom ratio.

In 35mm format terms, this 18-200mm lens is equivalent to a 27mm-300mm zoom lens, which pretty much covers every shooting situation that one is likely to encounter in casual photography. It’s a very well built lens, but I admit I’d have been happier if the lens had a metal mount like all my beautiful Minolta AF lenses instead of a cheesy hard plastic mount. But such is life. Industrial plastics get tougher, lighter and stronger every year, so I’m not complaining too much, though.

The one thing I am really happy about is that the SAL18200 a Sony “Made in Japan” lens – I expect that the production will soon shift to their Chinese or Malaysian plant. The fact that the China plant didn’t pass the official Chinese quality inspection doesn’t leave me with a lot of confidence in the facility, so I was happy to pony up the few extra dollars for the Japan made label. Maybe I’m just being paranoid, but that’s me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no China snob, I buy my share of stuff from Walmart and other stores, but I’m particular about my lenses.

The brochure states that the lens has a close focus of about 18 inches, but I have found in practice that it can focus as close as 12 inches at full extension – that’s at the 200mm focal length (300mm) so it’s very useful for close-ups as well as any general photography.

The lens is short – about 4 inches or so, with a 62mm filter, so its about 3 inches thick at its widest point. It’s short enough that the lens barrel doesn’t obstruct the on-board flash even when focusing close. The lens gave me a petal hood as well, which mounts very easily, and I reverse the hood on the lens body for easy transport.

The lens has focal length markings at 18mm, 35mm, 50mm, 75mm, 100mm, 135mm and 200mm (APS format) which correspond to 27mm, 52mm, 75mm, 112.5mm, 150mm, 202.5 and 300mm in 35mm format.

Here’s a series of photographs taken at each focal length detent mark. These pictures were taken at Christman Park in Gaithersburg.

Sony SAL18200 Lens-18mm (27mm eq)
Sony SAL18200 Lens-35mm (52mm eq)
Sony SAL18200 Lens-50mm (75mm eq.)
Sony SAL18200 Lens-75mm (112.5mm eq.)
Sony SAL18200 Lens-100mm (150mm eq.)
Sony SAL18200 Lens-135mm (202.5 eq.)
Sony SAL18200 Lens-200mm (300mm eq.)
Sony SAL18200 Lens- the Menhir

Sony SAL18200 Lens- Christman Park
Sony SAL18200 Lens- Christman Park
Sony SAL18200 Lens- Christman Park
Sony SAL18200 Lens- Christman Park
Sony SAL18200 Lens- Christman Park
Sony SAL18200 Lens- Christman Park
Sony SAL18200 Lens- Christman Park

Photographed with a Sony A700, Sony 18-200mm f/3.5 –f/6.3 lens


text and images © 2007-2008 ajoy muralidhar. all product names, websites, brands and technical data referenced are the copyright or trademark of their respective owners. thank you for visiting alphamagic, have a great day!

Creative Commons License
Alphamagic by Ajoy Muralidhar is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

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I finally got around to visiting the George Washington Masonic temple in Alexandria – it’s a shame that I haven’t been able to get over there, since I work close by – but DC traffic is hard to deal with on any given day. I visited on Martin Luther King Day – since it’s a Holiday, there was very light traffic. However, it was COLD!

It was about 28 F at about 4 pm on Jan 21 – the wind chill must have been much lower, but I was inspired by the previous night’s game between the Giants and the Packers playing in -3F, -24 wind chill. If they can play in such severe weather, why can’t I get out and take a few photographs After all, it would only take about 15 minutes.

This monument has been getting a lot of interest from the tourist crowd since it featured prominently in Nicholas’ Cages thriller “National Treasure” – since then, people have been adding it their itinerary when visiting DC, even though it’s a few miles away. On the bright side, they get to visit old town Alexandria and the cool shops on King Street.

I was using the Zuiko 35-70mm f/4 lens on the Sony A700 with the Bower Minolta AF-OM adapter – The lens is an apparent 52mm-105mm lens on the Sony Alpha, and it’s great for general photography and portraits. It’s also a good lens for Architecture as well – but only if you are able to stand back a reasonable distance.

For street architectural photography, I’d still recommend a 35mm lens ( in the case of the A700, it would have to be a 24mm lens to get the apparent 36mm equivalent). In this case, I lucked out since the temple has a lot of open space around it, even beyond the parking lot. It’s easy enough to get far enough back to get a decent full length shot.

At 4pm however, the front of the Masonic Temple is in shade. The rear and side were nicely illuminated. It’s advisable to go there in the morning hours to get a well illuminated front elevation shot.

GW Masonic Temple, Alexandria, VA

GW Masonic Temple, VA
GW Masonic Temple, VA
GW Masonic Temple, VA
GW Masonic Temple, VA
GW Masonic Temple, VA
GW Masonic Temple, VA
GW Masonic Temple, VA
GW Masonic Temple, VA

GW Masonic Temple, Alexandria, VA
GW Masonic Temple, Alexandria, VA

Photographed with a Sony Alpha 700 DSLR and Zuiko 35-70mm f/4 lens with a Bower Minolta AF-OM lens Adapter. ISO 200, 1/125 at f/5.6



Creative Commons License
Alphamagic by Ajoy Muralidhar is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

text and images © 2008 ajoy muralidhar. all product names, websites, brands and technical data referenced are the copyright or trademark of their respective owners. thank you for visiting alphamagic, have a great day!

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I thought I’d share my experience regarding the Alpha 700 firmware update.. I was updating from Version 1.0 to 3.0, and I was a little nervous (naturally), but I need not have worried. It went smooth as silk. I took the precaution of using a new CF card though, formatted ‘in camera’. I transferred the APP file to the formatted CF card using my computer and card reader device.

The update procedure is very simple – just put in the Card in the camera CF slot, close it, and turn the camera on while holding the menu button down. The camera reads the card, and opens the upgrade dialog. Select OK and the upgrade starts. It takes a couple of minutes, and then the camera reboots. That’s it. Its upgraded to Version 3. Happy shooting!



Creative Commons License
Alphamagic by Ajoy Muralidhar is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
text and images © 2007-2008 ajoy muralidhar. all product names, websites, brands and technical data referenced are the copyright or trademark of their respective owners. thank you for visiting alphamagic, have a great day!

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